Spin Dried Tailings

syncrudeTailings in oils sands parlance refers to the material leftover at the tail end of production… after the oil has been separated from the sand.
At Syncrude, this collection of sand, clay and water is pumped down a pipeline into artificial ponds. Over time, the particles of sand and clay settle to the botton of these tailings ponds, and the water is recycled back into the plant for reuse in the oil sand separation process.
According to technology developent officer Jim Lorents, Syncrude is piloting a new system to speed up that process. It uses centrifugal force, drying the tailings much like the spin dry cycle removes water from your laundry.
“We’re trying to dry those solids using mechanical energy and increase basically what gravity has to offer, ” he says. ” The machines we’re talking about are commercially available. We’re talking about a metre diameter by about three metres to four metres long, and multiples of them in parallel. We’re talking about improving the gravitational force from one gravitational force to 200 plus gravitational forces. So that should reduce the settling time by about 200 times”.
As Lorentz explains, the spin-dried material or “cake” would be left to dry for a season. Then is could be used in wet or dry landscape reclamation.

~ Cheryl Croucher

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